Abstract

Abstract:

This essay sketches out a reading of Julia de Burgos's first poetry volume, Poema en veinte surcos (Poem in Twenty Furrows), published in 1938. My twofold goal is to elaborate 1) de Burgos's poetic rejection of the historicity of tradition and the temporality of existing political and social norms; and 2) her retrieval of the temporality of the instant as the only temporal mode that may interrupt the oppressive unfolding of tradition. To do so, I focus on the opening and closing poems of the volume, titled "A Julia de Burgos" ("To Julia de Burgos") and "Yo misma fui mi ruta" ("I myself was my route"). Paradigmatic of de Burgos's life-long struggle to achieve an authentic form of self-expression within a patriarchal social context, these poems stage several interruptive strategies that are declined in different temporal keys. "A Julia de Burgos" ruins the very possibility of a coincidence between the poet and the person who bears the name Julia de Burgos, concluding with a utopian scene of ironic "self"-immolation in which the former burns the latter alive. Referring to the bending of the poet's desire "to be what men wanted her to be," "Yo misma fui mi ruta" figures the poet's interruption of a tribute planned in her honor. If "A Julia de Burgos" is oriented towards the future, the last poem of the volume is oriented towards the past. And yet, both poems foreground the need for the poet to take leave of a calcified social and political space that is bent on neutralizing the possibility of the new. As if she were responding affirmatively to Walter Benjamin claim that "there is a tradition that is catastrophe," de Burgos's poetic debut unleashes the interruptive force of a literary modernism that dissolves the illusion of historical continuity and temporal stability, even if the price to be paid is exile from any communitas.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6539
Print ISSN
0300-7162
Pages
pp. 118-135
Launched on MUSE
2019-05-03
Open Access
No
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